I'm hooked. Well done.
Very nice writing. I'm about 2 years from retirement too. Lots of daydreaming going on.Really, what person that fly fishes doesn't want to live in or retire to Montana? Or at least fish there when they can? My wife and I were newlyweds when we first thought about living in Montana. We'd backpacked and fly fished in the Bob Marshall Wilderness along the North Fork of the Sun River. Backpacked and fished a little in Glacier NP. As novice fly fishers, we even spent a few hours befuddled in the Yellowstone River a mile or two downstream of Fishing Bridge as an undecipherable hatch came off in a 55 degree drizzle causing the river to boil with huge rising fish. My wife managed a 5-second hook up that bent her five-weight rod into a vicious C before the tippet snapped and the fish was gone. That was as close as we got.
A few years later, with our two oldest sons, toddlers, we camped along Rock Creek for several days. The fishing was memorable (for me), with willing, strong rainbows including one that nearly jumped over my head as I stood in the waist-deep current. My wife played mom on that trip and never fished, though she happily, graciously, vicariously shared my time on the water. We didn't fish in Montana again for nearly 30 years.
Bozeman appealed to us. A college town with character. Pretty much at or near the center of the fly fishing universe. Mountains. Skiing. A vibrant outdoor community ..... but, not a lot of jobs. In hindsight (which is maybe 20/40 in this case), maybe we should have made the move. We settled in a small town east of Seattle instead which had all of the same features that attracted us to Bozeman except the whole center of the fly fishing universe thing.
Washington certainly has a wealth of diverse fly fishing options but for dyed-in-the-wool stream/trout fisherman (to paraphrase the Beverly Hillbilly's theme song) - Montanny is the place to be. We just never seemed to make it back there to fish.
We spent our summer vacations camped with several other families on the upper St. Joe in Idaho where we taught our three sons (and a slew of other kids - boys and girls) to swim, snorkel, fly fish, jump cliffs, dirt bike, and lie like the devil about the size of the fish they'd caught and released. We did a lot of the same locally in Washington.
They grew up, as kids do, and now it's their toddlers that are almost ready to grow up as their fathers did, outside, in the mountains and on the rivers. And we grew old, as parents do, and the retirement discussion went from the realm of some day to some day soon.
We had talked for years (mostly me) about getting a weekend cabin but as with any real estate ...... location, location, location was the issue (oh yeah, and money). It had to be near skiing (expensive), yet close to trout streams. Far enough to get away, yet close enough for a weekend. And affordable. Try to find that in western (or eastern) Washington. Montana would occasionally flit into the picture but then zap like a caddis fly dancing into a campfire.
As summer of 2016 approached and we planned our annual St. Joe camp week, we had a moment of clarity. As usual, three other couples, all long time St. Joesians (I made that up), would be meeting us there. For the first time in 25 years, none of our collective children would be there. Jobs, commitments, responsibilities now shaped their lives. The St. Joe camp would truly give us our first taste of what retirement might actually look like ... a bunch of gray hairs flailing the water and falling asleep around the campfire.
Clarity - retirement was a real thing. Not this year, but soon .... which changed things. We didn't need a weekend place, we needed a retirement cabin. It still had to be close to trout streams but skiing not so much. Once retired, we could spend summers at the cabin and come back home when the weather turned to take our RV and ski locally at Crystal, Stevens, Baker, and Whistler. Clarity - Montanny was indeed the place to be.
We planned to spend the week after the St. Joe in Montana, exploring, and maybe getting in a little fishing. We figured we could spend the next couple of years finding (and figuring out how to pay for) a place in Montana.
The St. Joe was low and the fishing was a little slow but wild cutts are wild cutts and always enthusiastic. Then we were off, over the Bitterroot range and into Montana.
Next: the plot thickens and maybe some fish pics
And best of all, it didn't interfere with college football Saturday!My new neighbor and I spent a few days camping on Rock Creek 11/8-10. He hadn't been back to a specific section he's loved for many years and has been wanting to go. So, we voted at the fire station and left immediately afterwards. The heater in the truck camper worked overtime as it was cold, but we brought plenty of firewood and great eats...bacon, lots of bacon. The fishing was good, especially for the last couple hours before the sun dipped behind the mountains, and the views were even better.